Tuesday, 5 November 2013

November 5th – 1,000,009 - DONE!



Sorry, I couldn’t resist it. The mental fireworks going off at this moment, a few seconds after 12:06 pm are incredible – the adrenalin rush just unbeatable. I hit 5,038 words just this moment, taking me just past the million word mark. I haven’t finished for the day but I’ve hit the mark, but I’m going to finish the scene.

For the record, the phrase that took me over the line was “the sound would be covered by the music” and the millionth word was “music”. Given I’m tone deaf that’s somehow appropriate. My apologies to my Australian friend who wanted the word to be something momentous, and for some strange reason linking Susan Boyle to Fosters, but music drowning the sound of a silenced gun going off will have to do.

When I started this process, it was about trying to do it, I gave my chances of hitting it at about 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 – in other words I didn’t back myself to make it. It was about the attempt, I refuse to use the word journey. I certainly didn’t expect to take 24 days off in the year, and still finish it with 56 days to go! If you’d told me that I’d have laughed – there was no way – but here I am.

Over the next few days I’ll probably be boring you all to death with the statistics, and if I can remember how to do it properly, with some graphs as well, but in summary the numbers break down as follows:

1,000,009 words written

In 309 days at an average of just over 3,209 words a day.

Since I didn’t write for 24 of those days because of family holidays and commitments I actually wrote that many words in 285 days at an average of 3,508 words a day.

In that time I’ve:

Completed 15 first drafts of novels or novellas varying in length from 35k to 85k.

Written the first few chapters of 5 other books, including the current W.I.P.

Written the opening scene of 4 more books.

Produced detailed synopses of a further 4 ideas.

Written one technical user guide and 10 newsletters.

My writing speed has changed dramatically – I was averaging less than 3,000 words through the early part of the year but for the last 6 weeks averaging over 4,600 words, indeed well over 5,000 words for the last week. Yet I haven’t been spending that much longer writing. I’m going to be exploring these themes over the next few weeks – so rather than a log of my progress you may find this blog may be getting more interesting.

What’s next?

That’s simple – there are two priorities for me.

Firstly I’m not going cold turkey and stopping – not a good idea. I’m going to slow down a little and do NANO as a stretch down exercise - 2,000 words a day form tomorrow to the end of the month is a nice ease down.

Secondly the year of writing 1,000,000 words is now officially over, if prematurely – the year of editing said mountain of words is about to begin – although I have done a first pass on three of the manuscripts, but that’s counterbalanced by massive plots holes in two others. Two of the others twisted so far away from my original concept that I’m not sure I can salvage them, but I will be trying to do so.

And I guess there’s a third one too – finish not just the current work in progress, but the other started books too – above all – keep writing, although I won’t be keeping such a close track of my word count for the foreseeable future - so no more boring numbers - except for NANO tracking of course.





Monday, 4 November 2013

November 4th – 994,971

Well I thought yesterday was a hot day in writing terms, but I surpassed it today – it has to be the adrenalin of being this close to the finish. 6,464 words today has put me over the 990k mark and I can almost smell the finishing line. Or maybe that’s just the sweat of effort of the last few days.

Another stint like those of the last few days and I’m there, just over 5k words to go. Looks like tomorrow will be the big day. Start getting the bunting out.

I’d keep writing but I have to get ready for the course tonight, so that takes precedence over trying for an even more stupendous word count.

Never mind, tomorrow looks like it’s going to be V for Victory day, or more appropriately E for Edits day – otherwise known as the day to tackle an absolute mountain of edits. I wonder how long editing a pile of 1,000,000 words is going to take… No. No. No, don’t get me started. I am not setting a new challenge – get thee behind me oh master of darkness…. No… Arrgghhh!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

November 3rd – 988,507

I’m trying to work out the motivation behind the fact I’ve hit 6,185 words today – my biggest single word count of the entire challenge so far. Two more days at this level will see me over the line.

The best answer I can come up with is that I’m naturally speeding up as I go along, and the adrenalin rush from getting closer and closer to the target is pulling me along, although it would be wrong to say I was kicking and screaming as it dragged me toward the finishing line.

I’m not spending very more time writing than I was six months ago, maybe half an hour longer, no more than that, but my output has almost doubled. I set out on this challenge to prove, to myself more than anyone else, that the old adage “write every day” either had some basis or not. For me, the empirical evidence is overwhelming. I’m writing more, I’m writing faster and I’m writing better. A quick scan of my most recent completed manuscript compared to the first one that formed part of this challenge is illuminating – one million, or thereabouts, words later, and there is no doubt my writing is better, less error strewn, and cleaner.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, it’s not, by a long way and everything is going to go through the wringer in a two pass edit phase before I even think about letting anyone else see them, but it’s better. At least two of the manuscripts will probably not survive the process, but when I go back to them, we’ll deal with that particular fence when we get to it. The horse may jump, or may yet learn to sing.

What’s not to like as the final finish line approaches – I’m more productive, and what I’m producing is of a better quality – I’m never going to win prizes for my writing, that was never my aim, and I don’t want to appear smug – but I’m feeling good right now.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

November 2nd – 982,324

Since I'd finished the previous story, I picked up another manuscript today, one I’d made a 5k start on about a month ago and then put aside to finish something else. I kind of expected it to take a while to get going but I closed the file down and did the calculation to find I’d more than doubled the manuscript’s length – 5,675 words in just about two and a half hours.

That’s taken me past 580k and I’ve hit nearly 16.5k words in the last three days and I’m speeding up not slowing down. This word rate is going to put me over the finishing line some time on Wednesday, if not Tuesday, which is awesome from my point of view.

I’ve already picked out my NANO project and I’m going to literally use that as a stretch down project, and consciously control my writing to keep it below the rate I’ve been hitting. The one thing I’m not going to do is go cold turkey on writing. I’ll ease down to 3k, and then around 2k a day to complete the NANO project, spend early December finishing off this manuscript (which will probably have about 10-15k to go at that point, maybe a little more), and then start parcelling everything up and setting up a self-editing schedule.

Anyway, that’s the plan, and including the NANO project I’ll have 17 completed first drafts to attack for editing purposes. Two of them have major plot holes, and two have stories that bent so far away from the original idea as I wrote them that I’m not sure they’ll be salvageable. The others will be okay – provided I spend 2014 editing and not get tempted into trying to better this year’s score. Which might happen – after all I’ve got another 14 started manuscripts from this year, and about a dozen from before then that are worth pursuing – that’s not counting any new ideas or continuations that come out during the whole process. I’m not known as the sequel king for nothing. LOL

Friday, 1 November 2013

November 1st – 976,649

Yesterday was quite an unusual day. The builders turned up just before eight in the morning, vowing to get everything done and finished before they left. As four thirty rolled around and it started to get dark I expected them to quit and return today, but instead they kept going, and going, and going. Eventually they were reattaching the guttering to the front bay window and porch using their van headlights for illumination. They left at ten past seven, having to admit defeat – the garage door needed another coat of paint and wasn’t dry enough for it to be done.

They’ve come back and done another coat this morning, but they decided it’s not perfect, so will be returning later today for what they hope will be the final coat. I have to say they have been good, not clock wise perhaps, but the quality of the work has been outstanding.

So with the working on the lower level facia boards, soffits and guttering, re-glazing some windows and working on the garage door it wasn’t exactly quiet in the house leaving me with a lot of work to do today, although at least I’d got the writing done.

Today I was determined to finish the story I’d been working on, get it to its natural conclusion and add it to the finished draft pile so that tomorrow I can pick up another started piece and whip that into shape too. 5,534 words later I typed “The End” and finished my writing stint for the day. Now I have a load of e-book formatting and finished formats to produce, four book covers to revise and a web site to update.

I wasn’t planning on going out tonight anyway – it’s a good job I’ve got some beer in the fridge.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

October 31st – 971,115

5,267 words today, and I’ve got my heroine through her black moment, and I’m about ready to write the final scene of the book, which will produce the happy ever after conclusion. This one has turned out to be a much shorter book, a novella rather than a novel, but it still works as a complete story, and stretching it wouldn’t work.

It’s taken me past the 970k mark and I guess I’m about a week away from finishing this challenge. My intention is then to work on a NANO project as a kind of stretch down – with a lower daily word count requirement, that’s a good way to start to relax and take the pressure off myself. I need to make more time for other things, and especially for edits. This book will make 15 written this year, and the NANO project will make 16 – that’s one hell of a backlog of editing work – and I need to get that done and dusted. I think I’ve said it before 2013 will be a writing year, 2014 will be an editing year.

I also need to pick up my IT studies again, and start working seriously on some app building –there’s a number of projects stalled there too.

 I’m not saying I’m going to stop writing, even for a while, that is something I no longer think is possible for me to do, but I am saying, I need to get this done. Give other things a little more priority, and a lot more time than I have been doing.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

October 30th – 965,848 words

My internal body clock was way off again today, so I was up at stupid o’clock once more. In order not to wake Marion, that means I slip into my home office, and write, at least it’s something that doesn’t make noise. I guess I could watch a film wearing headphones, but at that time of the morning, I don’t think I could find anything I’d be that interested in watching.

An almost automatic consequence of starting so early is of course I’ve hit my daily word count before lunchtime – managing 4,350 words in total.

Somebody commented (anonymously) on my post yesterday, when I was talking about not understanding why I’m suddenly writing around 4.5k words a day when two months ago I was closer to 3k. They likened it to training for a marathon – you start by running a mile, then a mile and a half, then two miles, and eventually you’re able to run the full marathon distance. For me, though this has been something different. I agree, I’ve trained myself to write every day and concentrate on completing a reasonable number of words every day – but, there’s been a step change in what I’m producing – the word count jumped from a respectable 3k a day, to a rather outrageous 4.5k average. (Okay, I’m slightly under that today, but two days ago I was over 5k for the day). I don’t know why, 6 weeks ago, this happened, and I wish I knew.

I had just come back from a holiday, but my holiday earlier in the year had not had that effect at all, so I don’t think there’s a causal connection there, so I’m at a loss as to the why of it.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

October 29th – 961, 498

Well, today was supposed to be our anniversary shopping trip – or should I rearrange that to say our retail therapy in an attempt to find our anniversary gifts for each other. Unfortunately, the trip turned out to be a bust. We did find some stocking fillers for the grandkids but in terms of anniversary presents, we both struck out. She did see one ring she quite liked, but they didn’t have it in her size and couldn’t get it in in time for the actual anniversary. Still, at least I know what to look for, because until that moment she hadn’t given me any kind of a clue. We did manage to have a decent lunch out, so the trip wasn’t entirely a wasted one.

Book-ending the shopping trip, I managed to get quite a lot of writing done before we went, and a good hour at it since we got back – the end result is I hit 4,761 words, taking me through the 960k mark and the word rate doesn’t seem to abate in any way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I could isolate the reason behind the step-change in word count, I’d bottle it and sell it. Most writers I talk to, see what I’m doing as either incredible, or crazy, or I guess, incredibly crazy. I’m not nuts, and I know full well everything I’m writing for this challenge needs editing before it goes near anyone else, let alone a professional editor, but it’s getting written and it’s getting written quickly.

Monday, 28 October 2013

October 28th – 956,737

I have to admit, that at a couple of points yesterday I wondered if this story idea was running out of steam. Not so, today. In fact, the storm, or rather the northern edge of it had me awake early so I was up and writing before seven this morning. It’s now lunchtime, my usual stopping point, and I’ve just hit 5,187 words for the morning. I’ve even left the story in the middle of a fast paced scene that has my fingers itching to keep writing.

My problem is I need to knuckle down and do my homework for the course tonight, so I can’t, however much my fingertips twitch, and my brain screams go for it.

The scaffolding will be coming down today or tomorrow, depending on the weather more than anything else, so hopefully by the end of the week the builders will be finished. In fact, even as I was writing that last line, the scaffolding company turned up and I have three men climbing all over the outside of the house removing the whole kit and caboodle. By the way they’re going at it it’s going to take a lot less time to take it down than it did to put it up.

At least the storm, what little we saw of it has blown through, so when there guys have gone, we should have the rest of the day in peace and quiet – depending on family, of course.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

October 27th – 951,550

I had expected to spend today wrapping up the story on my main manuscript and coming to a conclusion for the heroine. Sometimes though story pacing can take on a life of its own, and after only 2,425 words I was writing “The End”, a good couple of thousand words sooner than anticipated. Still it did manage to limp past 60k, which for a first draft is acceptable. (Limp as in word count, not as in story, as the story is explosive right up to the last sentence and I'm quite proud of the ending to this one).

At least I had the other one I’d been working on early in the week to fall back on, and after a few minutes to reread through it up to where I’d left it, it was all systems go, and just over an hour later, just as Marion called upstairs to tell me it was time for lunch, I'd hit 2,101 words and a suitable breakpoint, making 4,526 words for the morning.

Most writers I speak to, find switching between two different manuscripts, two different voices something that’s incredibly difficult. For me though, it seems as natural as breathing. I’m in document A so I’m in voice A for penname A, and when I pick up manuscript B, that’s voice B, penname B. Sitting here, I have two more pieces to work on, one for submission to a critique group (we’ll call that voice C) and the one that forms the homework for the Monday night course – call that voice D.

Then of course I’m sitting here in my own voice (Voice Zero) to write this blog extolling the fact I’ve passed the 950k mark.

What’s so hard about that?
If only I could bottle it as snake oil and sell it. Any takers?

Mind you, typing from the confines of a strait jacket isn’t exactly easy.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

October 26th – 947,024

Yesterday’s critique group through up an interesting question about the amount of help out there for authors looking to construct their characters or their plot, or even, given it was a speculative fiction group, their setting. So, for about an hour last night I went looking on the web to see what I could find.

God knows how, for a real newbie at this lark, how they would be able to sort the wheat from the chaff (sorry for the cliché). I have no idea how they would. I found some useful stuff, I even found something useful to myself (it’s called a beatsheet, and although primarily a screenwriting tool, a number of my friends have been suing it for plot planning. I’d heard the term but not bothered going to look for it, now, I have, and I can see its usefulness. I’m not sure I’ll change what I do, but it’s food for thought. Damn, there goes another cliché. Sorry. I guess I’m getting tired.

Life has intervened today, which is surprising – today was quiet after spending the last couple of days working in the middle of builders thumping and sawing all the way round the house, so I’d anticipated getting a lot of work done. I’ve reverted to being a good boy, returning to my main manuscript and managed 4,609 words, taking me within touching distance of hitting 950k tomorrow and quite probably wrapping that particular story up, somewhere above the 60k mark, which given I’d intended for around 40k (long novella) may well mean there’s a lot to cut at edit – or maybe not. We can always hope.


Friday, 25 October 2013

October 25th – 942,415

Yesterday as the builder’s left they told me they intended to return at about lunchtime today in order to finish off the work at the top of the house because they needed some materials to be delivered to site. So it was rather a shock this morning when I heard a noise on the scaffolding at eight o’clock and looked out the window in time to see two pairs of feet go past. Ten minutes earlier I’d been in the shower!

It turns out the supplier had called them first thing to let them know his van was on the way so they’d had to rearrange and race to get here before the van arrived to deliver the stuff they needed – and take away the stuff they didn’t. So they were on site about four hours earlier than expected, and then the van they were waiting for was late! The idea of texting to let us know never entered their heads – I’m so glad the upper level work is almost finished, with the scaffolding gone, I’ll be able to cope better, and see what’s happening.

Still all in all, despite the early frustrations of the day, and a lunchtime critique group, I’ve managed to hit 4,389 words for the day, sailing clear of the 940k mark and setting myself up to hit the 950k mark by Monday at the latest – but more likely on Sunday.

I’ve been a naughty boy though – continuing with the new story concept rather than picking up my main manuscript again. Still, the only schedule I’m hurting there is my own – I’ll probably drop back onto that tomorrow, a good couple of days should take that heroine over her personal finishing line.

October 21st – 923,594

Another day's writing done, another 4,273 words in the bank taking me past 920k. Mind you, I passed that number at about ten past seven this morning – I only needed the first 700 words to do that.

I cleared my schedule to allow time this week because the builders were supposed to be on site first thing – but it’s raining hard out there, hasn’t stopped since some time in the early house, and you can’t expect them to work up scaffolding under these conditions.

Hell I wouldn’t!

I guess the phone call to say we won’t be with you today because of the weather is a waste of time from their point of view – it’s obvious after all, but it would have been a courtesy to receive it.

Never mind, it’s cleared time on my schedule to allow me to get my word count done, and now it’s time to get cracking with the course homework. Although I’m not entirely sure I can get my head around Jungian Character Archetypes at any time of the day, let alone lunch time.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

October 24th – 938,026

Well it’s a glorious, sunny, October day and the builders have been hard at work since about half eight. That’s good but for me it’s also noisy, as where they’re working means the noise reverberates around the entire house – not the most conducive atmosphere for my own work. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who prefer to have peace and quiet to write – so I can’t sue music to drown out the sound.

I also have a confession to make – the idea I had buzzing around my head yesterday just demanded to get the first chapter written, so today I took time away from my main manuscript to write the first chapter. As this story starts with a serious bang – a confrontation between the two main protagonists, the dialogue of the argument quickly took on a life of its own and I felt like it was writing itself. It took me about an hour, maybe a shade more than that, but when I looked up, I’d written the argument and the follow on linking scene, a total of 2,659 words.

Then it was a question of being good and going back to my production manuscript and another hour and a half saw 2,233 words written to take me to a total of 4,992 words. In fact I might have deliberately written another sentence just to take me past the 5k mark, but I decided after the count up that I wasn’t going to be that shallow.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

October 23rd – 933,034

Well, the sun decided to shine from quite early this morning, although with some intermittent showers, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the builders turned up. Some of the work is a two man job but with the scaffolding the bulk of it is a one man job. The guy they left on site is cracking on with it, but it’s a bit disturbing to hear him working, or indeed just tramping around the window level scaffolding.

Still, despite the less than perfect peace and quiet, I did manage to get 4,889 words written, completing all the transition needed to get the heroine to the final scene. I’m no longer so sure I’ll finish that tomorrow, but certainly the book will be finished by the weekend.

That is of course provided I don’t distract myself with a wonderful new idea that started floating between my ears at about one o’clock this morning! There he goes, at it again, you say, and to be honest I’d agree with that assessment.

Passed the 930k mark with less than 70k to go, and nothing seems to be slowing me down, word count wise which is something I’m finding is amazing.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

October 22nd – 928,145

Writing today has been an unusual experience. Although I’m quite happy with the manuscript and I wanted to get the next part of the story told, by lunchtime I’d barely managed to write a thousand words. Given that I’m frequently finished in a similar amount of time, and I didn’t have any distractions or time away from the computer this was strange for me.

I assumed I was having an off day, a down day or a lazy day, but when I came back to the computer after lunch, within ninety minutes, I’d added another three and a half thousand words, taking me to 4,551 for the day.

I’m now going to pass the 930k mark tomorrow, unless working with the builders here becomes an issue. They’re not here today, and given the amount of rain that’s fallen, that’s a good thing.

The story is approaching its final dénouement, but I think that might be another couple of days, or at least a day and a half. That depends, there’s a final scene, and I’m in two minds whether to write that, or write just the start of it and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. Not a hook for a series – that would be something different entirely. Just a different way to end the book.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

October 20th – 919,321

Perception and reality remained joined at the hip today and I cranked out 4,748 words before lunchtime which made for the perfect break point as I have loads of other stuff to do.

It probably helped that today was the climactic scene in the manuscript – not the final scene but the one that one of my tutors refers to as the “black moment”, where the hero, or heroine, feels everything is lost. Of course we then build from that toward the finale, the denouement which in terms of a romance story would be the happy ever after moment. Since this is not a romance, it’ll be building to a climax of a different type, although not the miserable ever after that seems to be norm for certain kinds of fiction these days.

For once, this story isn’t going to have a sequel, either, the story is going to come to a natural end at around the 45k mark – so all being well it’ll be finished in a couple of days’ time. That being said, I can already see this piece is going to need some substantial plot editing early on, as the pacing may be a little off.

I intended this one to start relatively slowly (I mean relatively too – if it was too slow nobody would read further), and then build at a relentless rate of acceleration to the climactic scene (the one I’ve just written) and continue speeding up through to the end.

This kind of “constant acceleration” story is, I find, among the hardest type to write, ad certainly the hardest to edit once written. Ah well, rods, backs and own spring to mind - rearrange to suit.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

October 19th – 914,573

Marion woke up with a really bad headache today, so I knew before I got dressed that today would be a quiet day, and we wouldn’t be going anywhere. She gets them from time to time, not too frequently, maybe four a year or thereabouts, and they’re good for the day – she’ll sleep it off tonight.

Apart from the added time from running around after her, I actually expected to be able to spend the quiet time writing, but for some reason, one I can’t fathom, I  haven’t had the writing time I expected. So my now, mid-afternoon, I’ve just passed the 4k mark, hitting 4,187 words for the day.

I’ve got a huge pile of stuff to do today, so I can’t put any more time to it, and besides I’ll need to concentrate on dinner shortly, so that’s it for the day. Yesterday I was concerned about the way I was perceiving this piece, that it was slow going when in fact the words were flowing. Today, I can report that perception and reality are back in line. The words have flowed and I’ve felt I was flying along.

Writing is such a strange game.

Friday, 18 October 2013

October 18th – 910,386

Another percentage point scored on my way toward the target, as my 5,161 words today have taken me smoothly past the 910k mark.

It’s been interesting to watch myself today. I’ve had the feeling that I’m struggling with this particular manuscript, that the story isn’t working, and the writing is slow and hard. In fact, each time I glance at the clock I’m amazed how much I’ve managed to get written and in how short a time span. My perception is the piece is slow going, but in reality my writing speed and output is running at the same rate as the previous manuscript. The difference between perceived reality and reality almost doesn’t make sense.

When I’ve been flying on a work in progress I’ve felt the flow, that I’m “in the zone”, but with this piece, this week, I’ve felt I’m struggling when the reverse has been true. I’m not complaining, it’s just another facet of the experience of writing, and one that gives me pause to think.

Time to crack on with other things, real life and all that.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

October 17th – 905,225

The builders turned up today, to measure up and then disappear again, and won’t be back till Monday when they have the materials. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – what is it with builders and calendars. They could have turned up any day this week to measure up, so why leave it till today. The answer is glaringly obvious – they were busy elsewhere. Fair enough it rained exceptionally hard yesterday afternoon, but that was just one afternoon out of the week.

Given the brakes on my car were making some fairly nasty noises, at least that’s given me the chance to take the car down to my mate Russ in town and get them checked. I’ll be fetching the car back shortly, but I’ll be forty pounds lighter when I come back. Still, a main dealer would have charged me double that, and then more, so I’m not complaining. I guess I’ll have to redouble my efforts and sell a load more books to recover the money.

In any case, I have managed to get 4,548 words written today, and taken my word count to more than 905k, so overall I’m happy with that.

The new critique group last night was fun too – it’s amazing how many divergent opinions there can be within a group of four people – I think I counted five opinions in the room, and that didn’t count the author’s!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

October 16th – Through the 900,000 mark.

4,138 words today means I hit a total so far of 900,677 words, which in turn means I’ve cracked the 900k barrier. I’m now where I never thought I’d reach, and I certainly didn’t expect to reach in October – I’m in the home straight, the final lap, and any other racing metaphors you want to think up.
It’s taken me a mere 22 days to cover the distance between 800k and 900k so if I maintained that pace I’d finish around about 8th November. That’s a couple of days slower than a similar estimate last week, but my daily word count average has dropped by a couple of hundred since then. In fact, today, which has been a very busy “life” day, has been my lowest word count in the last 10 days.
I’ve got a critique group this evening, which is going to be fun, since one of the pieces is written by a Polish guy, in his second language, English, and of course what did we do to the Poles last night at Wembley?
Still I was good - I wrote up my critique of his piece yesterday before the 2-0 win, just in case we lost – I didn’t want to be accused of being harsh just to get my own back. Truth is, there’s a lot to say about it, but most of it isn’t that harsh, it’s actually got a lot of potential – but like most first drafts, including my own, it’s going to take some extensive, careful editing. I think there’s a fun evening ahead.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

October 15th – 896,539

It very much looks like I’ll pass the 900k mark tomorrow and enter that final lap of this challenge. Today although a quiet day has taken a little longer to hit my word count, but I stopped at 4,326 words. Transition scenes are always slower, I much prefer the action, dialogue heavy scenes where I can get my characters interacting without needing me. I guess that’s why my dialogue passages hit such speeds. Transitional scenes take a lot more thought, you can’t let your characters take their conversation all over the place and down some dead ends – you have to marshal them and keep control.

Your story has to get from A to B and sometimes onward to C before you can relax again, otherwise the story won’t make any sense. IF you’re having to think that much about what you’re writing, then you’re naturally going to be slower, even if you don’t want to, especially given that any transition scene will present you with pacing issues – you can’t let the pace of your novel slow during this phase – if you do the story will die on its feet once you get it in front of your readers, which will kill the book.

Let’s face it a transitional scene isn’t the most exciting part of the book either for you as a writer or for “them” as readers, so it needs to be quick, it needs to read quick, and above all it needs to move the characters on as much as it moves the story on.

I’m not going to get into lectures about arcs and lines, and all the theoretical stuff – other people are better at explaining or teaching that stuff than I am.

Never mind, 900k tomorrow! Only 100k to go then.

Monday, 14 October 2013

October 14th – 892,213

I didn’t expect to get a lot of work done today, especially if the scaffolding crew turned up on time, which they did. So I’ve been sitting here trying to write while surrounded by bangs, crashes and thumps that make me jump, even though I know what’s actually happening.

It’s neither restful nor conducive to a calm peaceful atmosphere to write in, but I surprised myself. When I sat back and called time on writing for the day, I found I’d hit 4,503 words which was an amazing total in such a fractured environment.

It’s taken me past the 890k mark, and I seem to be well on course to pass 900k within a couple of days and enter the home straight.

The step change in word count since mid-September isn’t abating, remember I was worried about the changeover between manuscripts, but this one, despite being a different type of story in a different genre, is flowing just as the previous one did.

In fact, the absurdity of statistics, is that if I was to hit my average word count for the last 24 days, every day for a year, which is an impossibility for anyone, I’d be hitting 1.7million words. When I set off I thought, as did most of my writing friends, that 1 million was absurd, but 1.7million that’s out of the question.

Actually it’s starting to worry me for a different reason. Having got into this habit of writing at this speed – what happens when I reach the target? I was intending to drop into edit mode and start getting all these manuscripts ready for submission – but can I actually switch it off, or will I keep writing out of habit? After all my mind, and laptop are filled with half-formed ideas.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

October 13th – 887,710

I reached the end of my manuscript rather earlier than I thought I would, the story reaching the point where it was ready for its climax a couple of thousand words sooner than anticipated. As a result I only managed 1,207 words before writing “The End”.

Of course it’s not the end – this particular story has an obvious and much darker sequel and that will hit the starting blocks in due course. In the meantime though, I needed to pick up something else to work on, and for me there was an obvious candidate, although it hadn’t been so obvious earlier in the week. As soon as I’d read through it and made a few minor corrections I scrolled back to the point I’d left it at, and started writing. Less than 90 minutes later I’d added 3,399 words to that story alone, giving me a total of 4,606 for the day.

To switch from a definite male point of view in a very male dominated storyline, to a female point of view in an intense relationship story which currently only involves two main characters wasn’t an easy switch to make, and it should have taken longer. The fact that it didn’t made me go back and reread my work in progress again just to make sure I hadn’t retained the verbal mannerisms and style (i.e. the voice) from the first manuscript. Luckily for me I hadn’t, although I did correct a couple of obvious errors on the way.

This appears to be another milestone along the way to this challenge and it confirms the step change I made in the middle of September was a valid increase in writing output – and not just the single manuscript driving me along. Whoop-i-do as you might say.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

October 12th – 883,104

The weather is terrible today, we’ve had a gale blowing throughout the night and that has in turn brought rain with it this morning. It’s now two o’clock and if my laptop screen had a darker background colour, then I’d need the light on, it’s almost like twilight.

Still, the one advantage of bad weather is the fact I’ve not been out at all, meaning I’ve hit 4,392 words today taking me well past the 880k mark and this particular manuscript past the 74k mark.

I’m actually in the mood to keep writing, but there are other things that need doing, so I guess they’re going to take precedence. Which I suppose is a pity, as it seems as if my fingers are itching to get me over the winning line in terms of this challenge so I can try something else. I suspect though, that won’t be NANOWRIMO this year, after all I don’t want to burn out. There again, after hitting over 88k words a month, NANOWRIMO may be a way of easing down and stopping me going cold turkey!

Friday, 11 October 2013

October 11th – 878,712

I managed 4,273 words this morning which takes me well past the day’s target, but I’m now out of writing time due to other commitments. Importantly, this word count has nicely taken me over 100k words ahead of target for the first time, and over 36 ½ days ahead as well, so the likelihood of finishing before the end of November seems ever more certain.

As a result, I guess the “year of editing – 2014” will start at the beginning of December 2013!

This manuscript is also approaching its conclusion, and I guess in a couple of days’ time, I’ll be in my usual dilemma of deciding which one idea to work on next. For me, at this moment it’s a choice of three, but I suppose other candidates will raise their heads soon. We’ll have to see when that moment appears. In the meantime I’ll need to pick up the current manuscript in the morning and get cracking with it.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

October 10th – 874,439

Another 4,370 words today and this particular manuscript is now building nicely to its climax. Mind you, there’s enough material left over for a sequel, so we’ll see.

With no sign of the builders, things are quiet around here, but at least I’m not frustrated about that – I know why they’re not on site, and things will pick up and start moving from next week – hopefully. Or is that, or else?

I have some covers to deliver to an author today, and I’m a little on tender hooks about them – we went big, bold, brash and bright, and her thinking was restrained, and pastel – but for us, pastel doesn’t sell so we’ll just have to see how it goes. Stand by your boats, or is it beds for her reaction.

Now, where did I put that air-raid warden tin hat I acquired for research some time ago? I thought it might come in handy at some point…

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

October 9th – 870,069

For the third time in six days I’ve managed to squeeze out more than 5k words in a day, with a total of 5,227 words to blast me past 870k, and suddenly the home straight seems that much closer.

This work in progress is starting to shape up very nicely, and I’m approaching the climax of this story, but it’s obvious there will have to be a sequel, there’s just too much material to get it all in the one book. In other words I’ve done it to myself again, just as I seem to every time – why write one book when you can write two, or three…

At least I’ve found an answer to my frustration with the builders. It turns out there was a simple reason why I couldn’t make contact with the builders – they changed their mobile phones, contract and all, on Monday, so I’ve been ringing a phone that no longer exists, although the computer system kept the answerphone message alive, which added to the frustration.

Now at least I’ve made contact with them again, only to find the scaffolding company didn’t book the job until the 14th rather than the 7th. It’s a dumb excuse, but at the same time, it has removed the frustration and I can get on with life instead.

The course I started on “novel structure” on Monday seems to be good, with a great group of students, and the challenge for Victoria will be to teach across such a wide range of stages of writing – only three of us on the course have ever completed a novel, the others are just starting on their “journeys” as writers. Ah, the poor idealistic lambs, they have yet to learn just how hard it is. Getting the words down is one thing, getting them right is entirely another.
As I’ve said before 2013 is my year of writing, 2014 will be my year of editing, and editing, and editing…

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

October 8th – 864,842

Slightly lower word count today, but my main protagonist has just had a big scene, and I didn’t want to start the next scene until I’d let him sweat a little. So, as a result only 4,579 words for the day, amid huge frustrations with the builders – or rather without them. They are not here, have not sent any messages, and are not responding to any calls – it’s a good job no money has changed hands.

I guess they’re hung up on a previous job which has overrun, but you’d think they’d have the decency to make a 60 second courtesy call to let us know what’s happening, but that seems to be beyond them. Meanwhile, my feet are nailed to the home front, because I can’t go out in case they turn up.
I might not worry about it, but it is maintenance work that needs doing, so I’m just stuck. I guess it gives me the chance of more writing time – but I do need to get out and do some shopping, and pay some bills at some point.

Monday, 7 October 2013

October 7th – 860,263

I managed 5,179 words today, in the midst of growing frustration. I guess I need to write when I’m angry more often. Not with the writing, the anger is directed at the builders, who were supposed to be on site at eight this morning, and well over five hours later, still haven’t turned up, nor have they left any message or returned any calls.

I know the building trade and clocks don’t get on, and it’s not a problem in the full scheme of things, but it’s frustrating as I feel pinned to the floor, needing to stay here in case they show, while there are things I could be getting on with if I wasn’t trapped here.

It’s more frustration than real anger, but the lack of messages, when a simple sixty second call would sort things out, is just a discourtesy I’m not sued to. I don’t do it to other people – I don’t expect people to do it to me.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

October 6th – 855,084

Almost but not quite back into the groove today, I have managed to get my word count back up above the 4k mark, hitting 4,217 words, so that’s only a low(ish) total by my recent standards and not low at all, really.

It’s also taken me past the 855k mark at the same time.

I guess today is, for me, the calm both after the storm of yesterday – I really do not like standing up in front of a group of people and talking, or lecturing, and the calm before the storm because tomorrow the building maintenance work starts in earnest. I’m hoping that tomorrow will be the nosiest day, but you never know with builders around.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

October 5th – 850,867

Well, today I went through the 850k barrier! To be honest, I think I passed the milestone with a whimper rather than with a bang, and for the first time in two weeks, my word count has dipped below the 4,600-5,000 word mark – having managed a mere 3,105 words, around 1,000 this morning and the rest after tea, but I’m now shattered.

At least I had a cast iron excuse – from 9:00am this morning till 4:00pm this afternoon I was at the New Writers UK showcase book pare at the Gedling Civic Centre. Since I was not only manning a stall for Bluewood, I was also one of the guest speakers I had a lot of preparation to do and I find facing an audience a mentally draining experience.

Luckily, I tend to “tour” the same talk throughout the year so this was nowhere near the first time I’d given it, and practice certainly makes it easier – however, each audience is different. Having said that, it was heartening to be approached prior to the talk by two different people, both of whom had been recommended to come and listen to me but people who’d already heard the talk. That was a serious ego burst for me – because a lot of the time you give a talk and afterward, apart from a couple of people, the audience drifts away and you don’t see or hear from them again.

My thanks to Sunita for covering the stall for me while I gave the talk, and for providing conversation during those moments when the show was slow and we had no one visiting the stall.

Friday, 4 October 2013

October 4th – 847,762

I had to get up early this morning because the builders were coming to look at three windows where the double glazing seals have broken down giving rise to condensation problems. There was a message on my phone telling me they were going to be late due to another job they had to finish – meaning I’d got up early to clear everything out of their way, and now I found I could have spent longer in bed.

Given the weather I don’t think they’ll actually manage much today – certain jobs shouldn’t be attempted in the rain!

Clearing stuff out of their way didn’t take as long as I thought so I ended up with a good three hours writing time this morning I hadn’t anticipated. End result, I’ve even exceeded the last couple of weeks totals, hitting 5,083 words this morning, and I should now pass the 850k mark tomorrow -  bearing in mind I only passed the 800k mark early last week.

This story is a proverbial monster, it just keeps going. Already I’m thinking about how I break it down into pieces.  What was it Hannibal used to say in the A Team (that showed my age, didn’t it) – “I love it when a story comes together” – well my version fits my situation better, so I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

October 3rd – 842,679

Easily skipped past the 840k barrier with 4,758 words today, and this manuscript remains one of the quickest things I’ve ever written. I’ve hit almost 34k on it and the story just seems to unfold further and further in my mind. I’m not sure you’d call it a saga, it’s a bit too intense and introverted for that, all the action taking place in one place, but it’s sprawling a bit.

In fact, I’m a little concerned it needs the flab cutting from it at a later stage, but I’m loving the storyline and the dialogue passages are just flowing, in fact that’s why the word count is so high each day – the story seems to be almost all dialogue! Actually, it isn’t it just seems to be that way, and I’m even handling topics I’d never intended to bring into my writing, so I’m branching out as I go.

Time to get other things sorted now, I need this room cleared out to make way for the builders tomorrow, so I guess I’ll be humping stuff around all day as a result. Never mind, as long as the jobs get done before the winter kicks in, that’s what matters most.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

October 2nd – 837,921

A slightly lower total today, just 4,608 words, but my excuse is a simple one - I reached the end of an important scene and didn’t want to start on the next one, get a couple of hundred words into it and then stop. I decided it was better to stop where I was and start the next scene fresh tomorrow.

At this rate I’ll pass the 840k point tomorrow too, and I can almost taste that magic million – if only I was actually being paid for it – yet! I think a couple of the books have homes to go to, and I’m sure a couple will go to Bluewood, I’m just starting to think about the marketing for the others – as in marketing to publishers.

The builders are now coming Friday – wouldn’t want to be working outside in the weather we had this morning, either, so we’ll see how everything goes. I guess I’m a little concerned about working in the noise and stress of them working, but we’ll have to see how it goes – I just wish I could go and write at a local Starbucks, Costa or Café Nero like a number of my friends do – but that would be prohibitively expensive for me – I like their coffee far too much.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October 1st – 833,313

A total of 4,961 words today has taken more past the 830k mark, and in fact done so by more than a full day’s worth of words.

It’s time now to give some thought to how work at incorporating and completing a NANOWRIMO challenge into working on this challenge. For NANOWRIMO I’d need to start a new project on 1st November and produce 50,000 words on it during that month. On my main challenge I need to produce 2,740 words a day, over a thousand a day more than the NANOWRIMO word count, so I’d be aiming to complete their challenge on the 19th November, assuming I wasn’t working faster than that. I also managed to write 90k words in September, despite having a week off. For the last 11 days I’ve averaged over 4,780 words. If I was to keep writing at this pace I’d finish my main challenge around about 5th November – before I’d really got started on NANOWRIMO

If someone had said to me at the start of January, that I’d be seriously looking at completing it by the end of the first week in November I’d have said No Way, absolutely No Way will that happen. To be honest, I expect my word count to slow, I can’t see me continuing to work at this rate once the current work in progress is finished, if it doesn’t slow down before then.

I’m left pondering if I’m going to be in a position to complete this challenge two months early and then start a new story for NANOWRIMO. That would be a turn-up.

Monday, 30 September 2013

September 30th – 828,352

A total of 4,777 words today takes me past the 825k point and on my spread sheet I can see I’m now over 80k words ahead of schedule. In fact, according to the metronomic schedule of 2,740 words a day - tomorrow is the day I’m supposed to reach 750k when in fact I’ll be passing 830k, so I’m almost a full month ahead of schedule, despite having had three weeks off during the year. Not bad going even if I say so, myself.

Oh, dear, that sounded smug, and it wasn’t meant that way. I’m proud of having got this far with the challenge and I’m starting to feel confident about completing it in good time too.

As always, with the building trade, you can’t rely on things happening when you expect them too, so despite expecting today to be the day they started on the external work – nobody has turned up. To be fair, they did say they would ring the day before and confirm, and nobody did, and we did say any time this week would be fine, but still, it’s irritating having waited so long to reach this point and having been given a start date of 30th September as far back as July.

There again, they’ve done nothing wrong, it’s about managing my own expectations rather than chasing the work. I guess it allows me to get other things done, instead.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

September 29th – 823,575

4,826 words today, and this story is flowing like virtually no other ever has. Today though is a day for life issues rather than writing time, so I am not going to be able to add to that total. Add to, you say?

Yes, if I had more writing time I feel fresh enough to be able to keep writing, my fingers are itching to get back to the keyboard and do just that, but I have things to do, and they won’t wait.

Well it’s now coming up on 4:30pm and I’ve managed to get the grocery shopping done, visited the in-laws, cut the back lawn and done a few minor jobs around the house and get dinner prepped and in the oven.

I’m now waiting for the phone call to say the workmen will be here tomorrow to start on the exterior maintenance jobs, but as always waiting for a builder, and waiting for the phone is exactly like watching a kettle boil - a real time wasting activity.

If only I could write now, I’d probably get another couple of thousand words done – but I’m shattered. I.E. I’m a wimp – no stamina.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

September 28th – 818,749

The word volcano continues to erupt, producing no less than 4,712 words today, and I still can’t work out the reason behind the productivity hike. My best guess, so far, is the writing break enforced by my stay in Wales for a week. But, and it’s quite a bit but, I have no idea why the same thing didn’t happen after the main family holiday in Devon in May. Then my word count did increase slightly, by an average couple of hundred words, but nothing like the step change of over a thousand this time round.

I guess, for me, it’s becoming a necessity to concentrate on reaping the rewards of it and to stop obsessing about where it’s come from, or what’s triggered it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep counting the benefit of it. Next stop 820k

Friday, 27 September 2013

September 27th – 814,037

I have to find more euphemisms for the amount I’m writing, having hit 4,898 words today and I can’t fully explain why my average word count has jumped by over a 1,000 words every day this week, but it has.

It’s something I should pick up and bottle and then sell – how many authors wouldn’t pay a few pence, a few pounds even, for a magic potion to enable them to increase their word count like that? But, I’m no snake-oil salesman, I don’t have a magic potion, or pill, or anything else. What words for me, doesn’t necessarily work for anyone else. The purpose of this challenge, from a public perspective, is to show that it is possible to generate a large word count in a relatively short period of time, and that, by example, if I can do it, so can anyone else.

So what’s holding you back from doing it?

The first thing people often say to me is about quality – am I sacrificing quality for quantity? My simple answer is no, I’m not. Not as far as I can tell. Yes the first draft is a bit loose, and needs a good tightening up at the first edit. Yes there are some plot holes that need extra scenes writing, or at least some serious modification at the edit stage, but that was true last year, when my word count for the entire year was 25% of what I’ve done so far this year.

Everything you write needs a good edit. Period. Usually more than one, and then followed by another by someone else too, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m outputting more, but not dropping the quality to do so. What’s not to like about that proposition.

Now where’s that phone number for the bottling plant?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

September 26th – 809,139

A total of 4,386 words today, split over two projects (again) has taken me to within spitting distance of 810k. It definitely feels like I’m on the downward stretch toward that million words, and I wonder if this process is going to accelerate even more as I get closer to the target. Certainly I can’t seem to stem the flow of words at this moment – and I am stacking edits up like firewood for the winter. 2014 is going to be the year of editing, that’s for sure. I wonder what challenge I’ll have to set myself for 2015 as a result?

That’s right, I had another story idea overnight so I quickly wrote the first scene this morning before going back to my main work in progress. My fingers are itching on about five different stories at the moment, and short of writing 500-1000 words on each every day, which is of course, nonsensical I’m having to fight to maintain patience and let some of them sleep for a while. Not easy.

If I let my writing take over, I’d be churning out somewhere closer to 10k a day, and while that may be fun you can’t put life on hold like that.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

September 25th – 804,753

This work in progress is rocketing off the ends of my fingers – another 4,233 words written today, and the story is developing at a nice pace too. I expected a bit of a downer today, to be honest, after all I’d hit a major milestone yesterday, so an anti-climax and a struggle was a reasonable expectation. So, hitting this kind of word count, and before lunch, was a pleasant surprise.

The head cold has just about disappeared, although when I went to bed last night, I found myself coughing a lot, and I had to suck a throat pastille for some time to stop it. Seeing as I’ve had the cold for almost a week, without coughing, it’s a little odd that’s it developing in this direction when the other symptoms are fading into history.

I’m also feeling my age today, given it was our daughter’s, our eldest child’s, birthday and I’ll be nice and not give her age away, but having a child of that age makes you feel somewhat older too.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

September 24th – 800,520

That’s it, I had a fabulous writing morning, and as a result hit close to 5k words – 4,973 to be precise, meaning I sailed past the 800k mark to the figure above. This particular manuscript is flowing, and I’m hitting the target word count on it even without the other two bits of writing. Certainly my average count for the last three days is over a thousand words higher than I was managing before the holiday. I guess it would be fair to say my batteries were recharged by the wet and windy weather in Wales last week.

To sum up – this challenge has resulted in completed first drafts of:
8 novels
4 novellas

On top of that:
12 starts – ranging from 1,500 to 20,000 words written on different stories, which includes the 20k written on my current work in progress.

Of those, 5 of the novels, and 2 of the novellas have also had a fairly severe edit pass, so you could class them as second drafts – ready for another good edit pass prior to submission.

And of course, I’ve still got 200,000 words to go, well 199,480 if you want to be precise about it.

I started this challenge thinking it would be hard to do, but worthwhile, and I have to admit it has been hard to keep going on some days, but most of the time it’s become an obsession to get the word count done – and then more so. I’ve missed a total of 24 days due to holidays and major family events, and have written every day other than those, only falling below the word count on 2 days out of the entire time. “Write every day” is one of those old sayings that are trotted out to you at writing groups at almost every meeting, and so far this year, putting that to the test has shown there is a lot of truth in it.

You don’t have to write like me, or even try for word count like me – but I can only encourage you to write every day – take it from me – it works!

Monday, 23 September 2013

September 23rd - 795,547

Today turned out to be a fast writing day again. First thing this morning, before breakfast I spent exactly 55 minutes writing – and managed to hit 2,296 words in that time. I don’t know why, but for some reason when I’m writing dialogue, the words just flow, and I end up pouring the conversation onto paper at an incredible speed. This is true if there are two people in the conversation of if it’s a group, although when I’m writing at that speed, and a group of people are involved in the conversation, I end up having to go back through and make sure it’s clear who’s saying what.

Then, later on this morning, I couldn’t help myself, I spent time writing 2,234 words on a completely new story to round off the day with a 4,530 word count.

The weather today is not as good, either so with this head-cold I’m going to be staying indoors and not going anywhere. The cold isn’t as bad as it was, and it’s certainly not man-flu – if it was I wouldn’t have hit today’s word count, but it’s bad enough to keep me inside. I have a myriad of little jobs to do around the house, so I guess it’s time to get off the keyboard and get my ass in gear instead.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

September 22nd – 791,017

I guess I must have missed the writing, because today, I shared 4,977 words between two projects – managing 3,429 on my main work in progress and 1,548 on a piece for group submission for my sic-fi critique group which had to be sent off today. That’s rather short for the group, but it’s the start of something much longer, and I need to make sure the beginning is right for the story.

Still, I’ve passed the 790k mark and I’m within touching distance of the 800k mark and I’m still more than 64k ahead of schedule, which equates to more than 23 and a half days ahead.

The head cold is no better, but at least we’ve got some decent weather now (I guess we should have booked for this week rather than last week, but never mind), so the last of the holiday washing is on the line, and should be dry this afternoon. I guess that means it’s time to get other things done, although I have to admit, my fingers are itching to get back to writing again.

Down boy!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

September 21st – 786,040

As you may have noticed there’s been a seven day gap on my daily updates for this blog. There’s been a simple reason for that – we’ve been away on a week’s holiday in North Wales, where there’s been no Wi-Fi access points – so no internet or e-mail for a whole week – a mixture of bliss, peace and withdrawal symptoms.

The idea was to occupy a comfortable log cabin in the middle of Snowdonia, and combine both a writing retreat with a family holiday. Unfortunately, there turned out to be two things wrong with the actuality of that plan – the weather – it rained, hard, every day, and there was nowhere for me to write. I have found, yet again, I need my comfortable desk and my Italian leather office chair on front of it to write. I can’t sprawl on a bed, or balance a laptop on my lap and write, and the dining table and chairs were just too uncomfortable.

As a result writing productivity dropped off, and I’ve only managed to hit 5,320 words in the entire week. I just couldn’t find anywhere in the cabin to sit and write comfortably. I also discovered something else, I guess I already knew – I need solitude to write. I can’t work with other people in the room, and I can’t work when I can hear the TV in the next room, either. I don’t need total isolation, just the absence of distraction. When we’re at home, this is something I can manage for long enough each day, but when we’re away, it becomes an impossibility.

Still, I’m well ahead of the curve in writing terms – and I have managed to bring one unwanted present home from Wales – a cold. No it’s not man-flu, but it’s a cold and it’s making me feel very woolly headed indeed.

Friday, 13 September 2013

September 13th – 780,720

I’m really starting to get into this slow burn fantasy project, the story is developing nicely and the heroine is starting to develop into a feisty young lady – exactly what the story needs. I hit 3,212 words today, which has nicely taken me past the 780k mark too - well over 70k ahead of schedule.

Health issues seem to have abated and I’m starting to prepare for my speaking engagement at the beginning of next month. Unfortunately they don’t have any AV support available so I’m going to have to work via hand outs rather than using the screen behind me, which is a bit of a problem gauging how many copies of each page to print off. Still it’s not that big an issue and it’s not like I haven’t dealt with that kind of thing before.

For now though it’s time to settle into that bane of all of our lives, getting the accounts up to date.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

September 12th – 777,508

Life issues were a little fraught today, everything seemed to constantly interrupt to the point that I didn’t get very much in the way of writing time beyond three or four half-hour stints spread throughout the day.

Since I’ve put down the last work in progress and picked up one of the new start pieces, it’s very difficult to get going if you can’t put some concentrated time into it in one sitting. Still, although it’s something like six and a half-hours later than my usual target time, I have managed to get 3,017 words written today, and I’ve had to call time on it for today as a result.

The day started with a trip to the GP – and for once it was good news all the way down the line. My appetite and sense of taste is returning, and I’m not suffering with the kind of digestive problems I was doing. HE wanted to double check my blood pressure since that was one of the meds he changed – and it’s spot on, so that’s working well. I’ve got to go back in October, but for now, I’m starting to feel like me again.

One interesting fact that came out of the consultation was my resting heart rate. Two years ago I couldn’t get it below 100, which is dangerously high for someone at rest – and that’s why I was referred to the gym and a get fit regimen. A year ago, at the height of the fitness campaign I’d brought my resting heart rate down to around 85. Today, despite everything conspiring to keep me out of the gym (arm and neck injury followed by this whole meds debacle), my resting heart rate was 65. For someone of my age and lifestyle, that’s not bad.

Maybe I really am calming down!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

September 11th – 774,491

I was a good boy today, I returned to my main work in progress and picked it up where I’d left off. By lunchtime I’d hit my target, adding 3,137 words to the total. I’m struggling with one of the characters though, and as a result I’m seriously thinking about putting this one to one side, just for a few weeks to allow my thought patterns to settle and in the meantime get on with something else. My thinking being, that taking a break from it, not abandoning it, just taking a break, will enable me to return to it and freshen the characters up, making the story work much better, and provide the necessary pointers to the edits I’ll need to improve the 25k already written.

My critique partner has returned a synopsis to me for a trilogy with some excellent suggestions, including a change of names for the central characters (four sisters), along with other ideas, and the instruction to “go for it”, which is a good indication the idea has “legs”.

This gives me a choice of three projects to tackle, although the trilogy will would take up most of the time between now and the end of the challenge, or either of the two new story lines I started this week. I’m back in my usual quandary again then – which one to work on? No clichés today.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

September 10th – 771,354

I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t go back to my main work in progress after all – I had to work on one of the new concepts. Yesterday’s was okay, I’d got a whole day’s writing done on it, and it worked out quite well, I got the initial scenes completed and it’s at a good point to put down and leave it. The previous day’s piece, though was a different story. I’d only managed to get 1,800 or so words of it down on paper, and although I’d finished the first scene, it wasn’t far enough along. I needed to introduce the second female character and I needed to make the male lead more sinister, as he was definitely starting to look like the nice kindly old uncle. Given where the story is going that would have been a little creepy.

I polished up the first bit, then sat down and cranked out another 3,769 words taking me past the 770k barrier by a considerable margin.

Given the amount of other stuff, life stuff, I needed to get done today as well, that was no mean feat. I’m now happy with both pieces, so hopefully I can leave both behind for a while and return to the one that I should have been working on. We’ll see.


Monday, 9 September 2013

September 9th – 767,585

Well for the second day in a row I abandoned my main work in progress in pursuit of an idea that formed overnight. That’s despite last night being a tablet night, so I conceived a complete plot in my head while sleeping like the proverbial baby. I don’t know how it happened, or for that matter why it did, but I managed to get the prologue and first chapter written in double quick time this morning, giving me 3,290 words toward my target and taking me within range of the 680k mark tomorrow.

I seem to have reached a point where the bare minimum of words written is more than 3k a day – I don’t think I’ve dipped below that since June, and the average is hovering around the 3.4k mark.

When I talk to other authors, I often find myself being queried on my word count, by people who struggle to write 1k words a day. Maybe I should start using my experience as a mine for the information to become a motivational speaker! Yeah, right, I can see that happening – where would my writing time go? There again it might turn out to be more profitable than writing.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

September 8th – 764,295

For the first time in several days I managed to get some, relatively, uninterrupted writing time today and as a result I powered through 3,640 words in total in double quick time. Those words, though, were spread over two projects – for the usual reason – I wasn’t sleeping very well last night, so in the middle of a wakeful period I came up with another new story idea. I can’t help myself.

The reason I wasn’t sleeping was straight forward too – I’m not supposed to take the overnight meds night after night after night – the most intense schedule would be two nights on the meds followed by one night off. Last night was the night off, and without that chemical crutch to lean on, I didn’t sleep. Having said that, and having been up at a very early hour for a Sunday morning – I don’t actually feel that tired. The cumulative effect of the meds is therefore on the plus side of the equation.

Tomorrow now, poses me with a problem. I haven’t finished the first chapter of the new work in progress and I’d like to get that done, while in my main work in progress I’m approaching a crunch point in the plot and the writing is flowing nicely. Ah, decisions again.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

September 7th – 760,655

Another reasonable night’s sleep has improved things, and I was less jaundiced in my appraisal of this manuscript today, probably for that reason. In any case I added another 3,083 words to it, taking it over 20k and it’s starting to work well as a story, so I suspect I may be cutting a number of chunks from the early part of the book when it comes to editing.

More importantly in writing terms, this has taken me past the 760k point and that little bit closer to the target.

The new blood pressure tables seem to be working too, although this is still early days as today is only day 2, and the doctor wants to review things next week to make sure the dosage is right. I even managed to go out yesterday lunchtime and eat a cooked meal. Okay, it wasn’t a big meal, and I didn’t clear my plate, but I did eat more than three-quarters of it and I enjoyed it. There were no repercussions afterward, either, no tummy-ache or other side effects. So I’m feeling happy with myself over that, all and all that’s starting to make things feel a lot better all round. Fingers crossed, we are now emerging from this particular tunnel.

Friday, 6 September 2013

September 6th – 757,572

I’m slightly outside my comfort zone here, this story is starting to move down a different track than the one I’d originally envisaged for it. Already I’ve killed off the main male rival, and the story is developing a much darker tone. I’m also beginning to have second thoughts about choosing my male character as my main viewpoint character – but there again he’s the one with the more sinister and darker motivations, so either the viewpoint character carries the readers with him - or the viewpoint character doesn’t really know what’s happening leaving potential for reader confusion.

I guess it’s another one of those that’s going to be written and then extensively edited. So much for sub-genre work, hey? Take yourself out of the mainstream and you end up torturing yourself.

I did manage to get 3,212 words done today, so I’m still pulling further and further ahead of target, but this piece is slowly becoming harder to write.

I started my new meds overnight, and the specific one to be taken at ten pm really worked a treat. I slept much better, and although I did wake up during the night, I drifted straight off again, a big improvement. I’m not sure if the fact it was such a dull day helped, but I slept later as well this morning. The new blood pressure meds also started this morning, and so far, no side effects, and if anything, I’m starting to feel more positive about food as well, so fingers crossed this is looking promising.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

September 5th – 754,360

Today has been a life day, rather more than a writing day, so as a result it’s tea time and I’ve only just finished my 3,037 words for the day.

If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, the interruptions piling up, one after the other, until I felt I wasn’t going to get finished at all. So I’m afraid today is a bit of an abbreviated update, I’ll aim for a longer one tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

September 4th – 751,323

That’s it! I’m officially three quarters of the way through the challenge, having passed the 750k mark this morning with today’s word count reaching 3,183 words.

As I said, this work in progress is flowing, so the writing comes easy, and as a result the speed is up on the previous piece. A sure sign this one is going to work as a story, albeit after it’s been through the edit phase. I’ve got one problem to fix in it though, that’s for sure. There’s an old adage about not having character names that sound the same, or start with the same letter. In this case I have both – two male names that start with the same letter, and one of them also sounds very similar to the leading lady’s name. I’m pretty sure one of the guys is going to change, and which one that will be – but from another point of view – thank goodness for global find and replace functions in word processors – doing this on a typewritten manuscript would be pure torture.

Time to get back to sorting out my diet for the rest of the day – I’ve decided to line up “bite size” portions of foods and see which ones I can’t handle, or don’t taste as I expect, and which ones I can. Yesterday I had problems with two foods I haven’t had problems with before, in fact one was something I’d eaten without problem the day before. I need to have some concrete information before I go and see the doctor again. Apart from excessive (top end) wind, everything seems to be okay from the neck down, now, but it’s no good to me if I can’t swallow it in the first place.